Sometimes laws can be hard to understand. There’s a case in the UK where an underage girl was violently married off and raped, but the judge says he can’t annul the marriage. Sorry for citing the Daily Mail but it’s the only source:
A judge says he cannot nullify the marriage of a teenage mother who says she was forced at ‘gunpoint’ into becoming a bride when she was just 14.
Instead the girl, now 17 and a mother of a one-year-old, must defy her family if she wants the union formally annulled, said Mr Justice Holman at the High Court.
The teenager, who was born in Britain and whose family has lived here for 40 years, says she was shipped out to Pakistan to contract a forced marriage with a 24-year-old man two years ago.
She told how she was subjected to ‘harrowing’ violence and menaced with a gun to go through with the ceremony – and was two weeks later forced to have sex with her ‘husband’, giving birth to his baby who is now aged just over one.
After she came forward with her account, her local authority took both her and her baby into care and asked Mr Justice Holman to formally declare that her marriage – which effectively made her a rape victim – could never have been recognised under English law.
But there’s a statute that says he can’t, so he said no.
It seems grotesque, doesn’t it. She never consented, in fact she was forced at gunpoint, so…how was that ever a legal marriage in the first place? You’d think they could carve out an exception for fake “marriages” that are actually not marriages at all but a collection of felonies. Abduction plus menacing plus rape shouldn’t add up to marriage.
Mr Justice Holman accepted that – as the girl was ‘domiciled’ in the UK; had been put under duress; and, most importantly, was under 16 at the time of the ceremony – the marriage was ‘on the balance of probability, void’ under English law.
However, he said he was prevented from making a solemn declaration to that effect by a section of the Family Law Act 1986, which states: ‘No declaration may be made by any court…that a marriage was at its inception void’.
But is it “a marriage” at all? It doesn’t seem like a marriage to me. It seems like a crime, and a very serious crime at that. It’s enslavement enabled by abduction and violence, not marriage. What magic words make it a marriage under those circumstances?